The top teams in the NPB Pacific League have at it this weekend when the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks play host to the Saitama Seibu Lions at the PayPay Dome. The Hawks currently hold a half-game lead over the Lions in the Pacific League but have played six fewer games than their rivals. The pair rank second and third in the overall standings behind the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in the Central League at 56-34-1.
The NPB odds for Game 1 of this series have the Hawks -190 favorites and +100 on the run line. With a strong weekend, the Lions can overtake SoftBank and leave town with a 2.5-game lead. But, the Hawks are a dangerous team and will not be an easy foe during this road trip. Let’s catch up with current NPB odds for this game and make some predictions for the weekend.
Softbank Backed by Consistent Offense
While the standings suggest that these teams are well-matched, the Hawks have a leg up on offense. The Hawks currently have four of the top 10 players in the Pacific League in terms of batting average including Kenta Imamiya (.296), Gracial (.287), Yuki Yanagita (.276), and Masaki Mimori (.267). Seibu does not have a single player in the top 10. As a team, Softbank is hitting .255 with 60 home runs and 308 RBIs.
While Softbak’s offense is their driving force, they also have the best pitcher in the league, Kodai Senga. Senga is in line to start Game 1 of this series after last pitching on July 21. Senga was not used in this week’s NPB All-Star Game and will be fresh for the weekend. He has a 1.70 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 100⅓ innings pitched. Those numbers are second in the NPB to Koup Aoyagi of the Central League at 1.37.
Softbank has two more pitchers in the top 10 of ERA in the Pacific League as well. Both Tomohisa Ohzeki (2.70) and Nao Higashihama (2.79) will be available and could make life hard for the Lions. Seibu has one player in the top 10 of ERA in the Pacific League.
Seibu Struggling Against Softbank
Seibu isn’t in second place by accident. It does well against most teams on most nights and has an all-around solid squad. However, they can’t seem to find consistent success against SoftBank. They are on an 0-4 slide against their rivals including two straight losses at home. On a positive note, the Lions are 5-6 against the spread against SoftBank despite a 7-3-1 straight-up record.
Seibu is on cold streak. It was swept last week by Lotte in three games and finished its series against Rakuten 1-1-1. Neither of those teams is on Softbank’s level and I’m not sure that the Lions have what it takes to pull ahead in the Pacific League in this pivotal series.
Hawks vs Lions Head-to-Head
These Pacific League rivals will have met several times this season with the Hawks getting the better of Seibu in 11 games. SoftBank holds a 7-3-1 overall record in 2022 against Seibu, including four straight wins dating back to May 17.
The Lions do have the biggest win of this season series so far with a 6-0 victory in April. But, it’s clear that the Hawks are the better overall team. Despite this, the Lions are 6-5 against the spread against the Hawks and are at least covering spreads against SoftBank. Softbank is also on a 4-0 winning streak against Seibu.
Hawks vs Lions Series Information
- Game: Hawks(46-40-1) vs Lions (48-43-2)
- Location: Fukuoka PayPay Dome, Jigyōhama, Chūō-ku, Fukuoka, Japan
- Day/Time: Friday, July 29, 5:00 a.m. ET
- Hawks vs Lions Live Stream: Pacific League TV